A Walk in Halls of Art – Art Dubai Review


On March 21 Art Dubai has finally opened it’s doors to public, revealing the long waited artworks of 75 galleries from around the world, presenting only their best of paintings, photography, sculptures & installations. Divided in two large halls, displayed carefully to grab viewers attention, anyone who was in Dubai & the world who missed visiting Art Dubai, missed one of the best Art scenes in the world!






Art Dubai 2012’s ambitious offering of artists’ projects and dynamic programming generated a wealth of interest from an increasingly diverse audience base. The fair was opened by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and visited by Art Dubai’s patron, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. HH Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum inaugurating the fair’s Ladies’ Day.

In 2012, Art Dubai which was held in partnership with Abraaj Capital and sponsored by Cartier, welcomed 22,500 visitors UAE-based, regional and international guests, including curators, collectors, gallerists, artists. The fair also welcomed five galleries from Indonesia as part of its Marker section, curated by Alia Swastika.






Even though there were international galleries based in New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Cape Town and wide variety of art-pieces, most of the artworks showcased were related to Middle East different political, social, religious etc issues. This proves that the artworks were carefully selected to give the contemporary art fair a regional flavor, a unique identity, positioning Art Dubai as a pioneer yearly art venue in across the region.

Once again, the so called “Arab Spring” took over most of the visual art themes. To me, some artworks presented the “after shock”, others were “anticipating” change or outcome, some cascaded reality of “ugly truth”. Another interesting thing was the presence of Iranian art & artists, I always have heard about their art but never had the chance to see any in real. I must admit I was impressed with their daring way of expression, direct messages, detail oriented, and although the ‘ways’ were different I felt there is a general refuse of the forced reality & all forms of repression notably the religious one. Here are some of my favorite booths & artworks.




















More mesmerizing artworks & displays:
















This installation by Marya Kazoun ‘They Were Here’ was also exhibited in “GlassStress” exhibition, Venice. Talking about bringing international inputs to the region! :)



These are the most distinguished & argued artworks in Art Dubai; ‘Dome’ by Khosrow Hassanzadeh & ‘View’ by Jim Campbell.








Last but not least, it was a pleasure walking around two galleries mentioned always in Al Maha and in touch with their latest news & updates; Ayyam Gallery & Aaran Gallery.

Ayyam Gallery









Aaran Gallery








This was a general review of Art Dubai, stay tuned because Al Maha will bring you further features, special reviews and exclusive One-on-One with participating artists.



Watchout for the Art Waves of Art Dubai 2012!

(the battle for petra) Isak Berbic

The countdown has begun for one of the most anticipated art event of the year, Art Dubai 2012. Since the announcment of Art Dubai 2012 last November, Dubai has witnessed a non stop dynamic Art movements & events all under the umberlla of Art Dubai 2012 which will be from 21 – 24 March.

The wave Art Dubai 2012 created is not stopping, with Global Art Forum, Sikka 2012, and the opening of Art Dubai all happening in March. Trust me your dont want to miss any!

Global Art Forum

(the battle for petra) Isak Berbic


The Global Art Forum was launched by Art Dubai at its inaugural fair in 2007. Bringing together art world protagonists for a week of conversation, the Forum has become the region’s leading platform for contemporary art discourse, with a particular emphasis on issues prevalent in the Middle East and Asia.In 2012 the Global Art Forum expands to six days starting March 18 to 24th featuring commissioned projects and research, as well as live debates and presentations. 

Entitled ‘The Medium of Media’, the Forum is re-inventing itself this year. Along with the familiar array of lectures, conversations, discussions, and workshops, it includes a new roster of commissioned projects that precede and succeed the live days. Thematically, the Global Art Forum 6th edition looks at the double meaning of the term ‘media’, both within the art world and referring to the world of publishing and reportage. Underpinning this is a look back at the past year in the Arab world, and how fundamental events have been both produced and consumed as media. The Forum is, effectively, a media production about media.

The programme begins in Doha 18 – 19 March in MATHAF: ARAB MUSEUM OF MODERN ART with presentations of the new commissioned projects as well as discussions on the relationship between news-makers and history-making in the Arab world, and the increasing phenomena of artists turning to the medium of feature film making.

The Forum subsequently moves on to Art Dubai, March 21-24. Here, continuing the theme of ‘The Medium of Media’, the Global Art Forum_6 invites critics, historians and experts to discuss Marshall McLuhan’s legacy; the Beatles’ last ever concert; the past and future of ‘Net Art’; how news shapes art and financial markets; the Crusades told through the medium of puppetry; archiving Emirati TV; and much more.

The Global Art Forum_6 schedule is available as a downloadable .pdf here.

The Forum Fellow:

In response to the Global Art Forum’s theme of ‘The Medium of Media’, the Forum Fellows returns in 2012 as an intensive writing workshop and a series of closed-door, round-table discussions, culminating in a public presentation to be staged on the final day of the Forum in Dubai (Saturday March 24, 2pm). Organized by the critics Kaelen Wilson-Goldie and Murtaza Vali, the program brings together a dynamic group of writers, including artists, curators and cultural practitioners who consider writing a crucial part of their practice.

The current edition of the fellowship program is plotted along two axes. The first axis is a series of discussion sessions arranged around notions of obsession and neglect. The Forum Fellows is inviting a number of people from the wider fair community to join in debates about the tensions and pressures that are brought to bear on writing as criticism, journalism and an artistic practice in and of itself. Of particular interest here is overcoming the two-part problem of obsessing over the present (keeping pace with the political upheavals, financial collapses and social ruptures of the past year, for example) while neglecting the past (failing to make critical reflection or serious art historical research an integral part of the writing process).
The second axis is an intensive writing workshop, for which the participants are producing and critiquing short texts on a daily basis. Without the imperative to publish, the workshop seeks to encourage formal innovation and stylistic experimentation, with an emphasis on the performative potential of texts that will be created amid inevitably strange circumstances – the noncommercial, discursive platform of a commercial art fair in Dubai. While the shape, tone and format of the various texts will remain open, some of the possible story structures that the fellows may respond to include: propositions, problematics, provocations, the world of the fair, the world beyond, mythologies of the city, secrets, rumours, mysteries and reprimands.
The fellowship program comes to an end on the last day of the Global Art Forum with a public presentation. The form of the presentation itself – a panel discussion, a set of tentative conclusions, a collection of text-heavy leaflets, a social media meme, a reading or something else entirely – will be determined by the fellows during their time together, as an exercise in coming up with a dynamic way to present written material in real time.

This year’s fellows are the writer Rayya Badran (Beirut), the critic and curator Jyoti Dhar (Delhi and Dubai), the artist Shahira Issa (Cairo) and the writer and curator Rijin Sahakian (founder of Echo/Sada for Contemporary Iraqi Art). 


Sikka 2012

Shamma Al Amri, Particles of Sand, 2011 (detail) © Khalil Abdul Wahid

Another event happening under Art Dubai’s umbrella for the second year is Sikka 2012  an artist-led fair that features an entirely-commissioned programme of new work by UAE artists, selected by a jury from an open call. Exclusive events include live music and research areas, interactive food gatherings and educational activities, plus an open-studios exhibition by the Artists-in-Residence (A.i.R) Dubai. SIKKA is an initiative by Dubai Culture taking place March 15-25, 2012, at Al Bastakiya.

For more information on Sikka 2012 visit: http://www.sikka.ae/


Because Art Dubai is a non-stop art fair, Al Maha will feature dynamic non-stop articles & updates about Art Dubai 2012 so stay tuned :)